Why Do Some Consider “Skepticism” a Dirty Word?



I’ve written in these pages that I believe that everyone is a skeptic. I think that’s true without exception. No matter the walk in life, there are people that are skeptical about many different subjects and it has nothing to do with religious belief or those of us that are non-religious. We all certainly have our own biases, as individuals or in certain groups, but that doesn’t nullify skepticism. In fact, /i would challenge anyone to find a person that isn’t skeptical about something, whether it is Bigfoot, or Ancient Aliens, or anywhere in between, we all have our doubts about something we read or hear about at one time or another.

So why is it, those of us that refer to ourselves as skeptics, seem to be derided so often? It’s almost, at least in my opinion that those that take that course, don’t understand what it is to be a skeptic and are in denial that they, too, are skeptics. Some people I know think of skeptics specifically as non-believers, or as I prefer to be known: atheist. But atheism only concerns the non-belief in god(s) and has nothing to do with the remainder of the natural world.

Not all atheists are necessarily skeptics in the broader definition of the word. As I wrote before in this series, our own bias no matter what we may believe about ourselves, plays a part in what we choose to believe and what we decide doesn’t pass the skepticism test. It’s not just atheists though, believers as well are skeptics, although they may not like having that word attached to them. Ask any believer if they think the Ancient Aliens Theory is true. There may be some, but most would probably say the same thing they would about Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

We can always find a person that wants to believe something for which there is no evidence. Religious belief, or any demographic (race, ethnicity, age)  has nothing to do with what people are willing to believe. Even the best educated have their peculiarities: I remember, long ago, a very distinguished Professor of Political Science who believed, absolutely, that the JFK assassination, was a conspiracy, and actually hosted a public seminar on campus every November to discuss this theory. The house was always packed.

Being a skeptic is something none of us should be afraid  of being. What it shows is that we’re willing to consider what we’ve heard or read but are looking for the evidence that would actually affirm whatever it is someone is making a claim about. We shouldn’t allow skeptic to be a word we are afraid of or admit that we are.


2 thoughts on “Why Do Some Consider “Skepticism” a Dirty Word?

  1. I base my world view on following the evidence. I believe in the pursuit of truth, not the presumption of it.
    So far I see no real demonstrable evidence for bigfoot, loch ness, aliens, Jersey devil, the goatman, ghosts, or even god. I only see people’s collective fear of the unknown. Until anyone can verify these claims with the kind of evidence that would stand up in a court of law, I’m going to remain on the fence. I’m not going to say any of those claims are true or say that what someone else says its true if they can’t verify them. And not because they think it makes sense either. If I can’t verify it, they can’t verify it, no one can verify it, then by definition it is an unknown or non-existent.

    Food for Thought:
    When it comes to urban myths & legends VS god, urban myths & legends don’t demand and command blind faith.


  2. I think it is a “dirty word” because there’s always the danger that your skepticism might lead you to question my cherished beliefs, beliefs for which I have little if any evidence but would prefer to maintain because they make me feel good. And if you don’t believe what I believe, then you are not “one of us” and must be viewed with suspicion.


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